I learned something about myself.

May 10, 2009
When I was a little girl -- like, seven or eight -- I wanted nothing more in the universe than for magic to be real. I already loved science fiction and fantasy novels (the first thing I ever saved up for was a box set of the Chronicles of Narnia) and I wanted oh so badly for my life to be like that.

I knew it couldn't be, of course. I was well aware that I was not secretly a fairy princess and wizards and dragons did not exist and the books were as close as I was going to get. But oh, I wanted.

And I was a genre-savvy little kid; I had realized that even in books about a world like our world where magic did exist, the protagonists never already understood how it worked. But because the protagonists, like me, wanted magic and dragons and fairies to exist, I reasoned that they would have read the same kind of books I did, books that explained how magic worked and what to do if you met a sphynx and so on. So logically, I figured, if magic does exist, it can't be anything like it is in books. And, somewhat less logically, I decided that it couldn't be like anything I could imagine and put in a book, either.

I wish I could explain the feeling I got then, and every time after, imagining some new way for magic to be real and then realizing, by my own logic, that I had negated that possibility. It was like a door closing -- no, slamming shut in my mind. I can still summon up that feeling that's less like a feeling than a real sense of the universe closing itself to me. It's still so vivid because it's never really gone away.

I don't know what it was that made me remember this train of thought, but it hit me last night like a hammer. This is why I'm terrible at magic, at ritual, at meditation. This is why I always stare agape at potential employers when they ask in interviews where I see myself in five years. This is why just suck it up and say it I've never dated, because all that time imagining myself in someone's arms meant I had convinced myself it would never happen, and never imagining myself in his arms meant I didn't notice when he expressed his interest. This is why I've never really had a plan for what to do with my life (although I have to say I haven't noticed any serious detriments yet). This is why I have such a hard time writing fiction. There's a broken switch in my imagination.

The nastiest part is I know I did it to myself. No one else ever told me this (although my general social ostracization probably contributed to my wanting a different life when I was eight). To the contrary, I was always encouraged to be imaginative. What I wasn't really encouraged to do was to want something so hard, but then, I always knew that what I wanted was impossible anyway. But it bled over, somehow, into being afraid to want anything at all.

Knowing what it is doesn't immediately make it better. I broke myself when I was small; it's a way of looking at the world, now. I have no idea how to change it. I think maybe, now that I know what it is, I have a chance. I hope.

1 comment:

Livia Indica said...

I love the Narnia books too. I fell in love with them long before I got into Lord of the Rings.

I think we all, at least to some extant, lose that childlike sense of imaginative wonder. It's just a function of time, life and disappointment.

I know this might sound horrible to some people but smoking cannabis really helped me get some of that back. I don't smoke anymore and I have felt its absence most keenly in my ability to lose myself in music, film, daydreams, ritual and nighttime dreams. It really heightened and enhanced those things for me in the sense that it got me back through that once-closed doorway. I'm not necessarily encouraging you to light up.

Rather, I'm saying that there are methods that can help bring that childlike belief/feeling/imagination back. Cannabis was the biggest boon to me in that sense. But there's plenty of other things that can help. Spending more time out in nature, being creative (and not necessarily great art, just making a simple collage from magazine scraps can be great), nurturing a plant, etc. There's lots of ways to get it back, you just have to find ways that work for you. Now that I don't have cannabis anymore I've taken up collage and creative journaling and am back to photography as well. There's lots of options. I hope you find something(s) that help.